Welcome back dear readers! It has been a while! I got NEWS!
I’m pleased to announce that Don Jacobson has a new book written and published, the next in the line of the Wardrobe story. I wonder what everyone will think of the new book, I personally loved it!
I will let you, dear readers go on now, Don has graciously let us read a blurb from his book, and further down in this blog there is an excerpt too. Warning, long blog entry, so I hope you can manage.
“I have been shaped by the events of over forty years. The world is a nasty place full of awful persons, Mr Wickham, and does not get any lighter through complaining or blaming.”
The Countess: An Enigma? A Mystery? Or a young girl all-grown-up?
Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of the Master and Mistress of Longbourn, had spent far too long as the shadow of her youngest sister. The all-knowing Meryton chinwaggers suggested that young Miss Bennet needed education—and quickly.
How right they were…but the type of instruction Kitty Bennet received, and the where/when in which she matriculated was far beyond their ken. For they knew nothing of that remarkable piece of furniture which had been part of the lives of clan Bennet for over 120 years: The Bennet Wardrobe.
Forty-six years from when she left her Papa’s bookroom, the Dowager Countess of Matlock returned to that exact same moment in 1811 to tend to many important pieces of Family business.
In the process, Kitty Fitzwilliam helped her youngest sister find the love she craved with the hero who, as the Duke said, “saved us all.”
“Who can resist the magic of time-travel? Pages of worldwide history rustle back and forth between Regency grand salons, Napoleonic battlefields and more recent conflicts as, guided by Don Jacobson’s masterful pen, the Bennet sisters grow as people and come into their own. ‘The Countess Visits Longbourn’ is a wonderful new instalment, and we cannot fail to revel in the excellent writing and the abundance of detail as the mysteries of the Wardrobe continue to unfold. This captivating series, that brings together real and much-loved fictional characters from all walks of life, is one to savour, and I will revisit it again and again.” – Joana Starnes, author of Miss Darcy’s Companion
And now, dear readers, I hope you desperately want to get your hands on the book, therefore I will let you read what I think of the book, through my review.
My Review of the book;
This book, the fifth in the row, takes place when Kitty or Lady Kate is 63 years old and returns to Longbourn after some odd fifty years away. Now she must assure that her father takes the appropriate steps to preserve her version of the future, secure who the Keeper of the Wardrobe will be and make sure that the remaining Bennet sister will find her way to happiness.
From peaceful Deauville to war-torn Europe, we follow how steps are taken to protect the Bennet’s and the Wardrobe against the change of time, the evil which will use it for their own purposes and even Bennet’s who aren’t ready for their time to learn.
I was very pleased with Don’s next piece of the puzzle which is the Wardrobe series, and small plot holes I had noticed in the earlier books was filled with the information you are given in this book, including how Lydia and Wickham became so very devoted to each other, and how steps are taken which will lead Wickham to become a new man and Lydia to become the powerful and strong Countess of Matlock.
Much laughter and yet sadness was presented in this book, as many of the characters from earlier books had begun their next great adventure. A new sense of Lydia, as a grown up and sensible woman started to emerge, which I find to my liking, as it would be another character who Don would make me like for the first time. Furthermore, old enemies appear as the book draws to a close, remember back to “The Exile” and then it will make sense.
I do suggest a handkerchief for the ending though since I did cry a bit as it was tragic and yet sweet in its own way.
All in all, another masterpiece to the puzzle which is the Wardrobe series. I can only congratulate Don on yet another wonderful book and hope to see the next one soon.
Dear readers, Don is very generous and have allowed us all a peek into his wonderful book!! Imagine that! Don gave me carte blanche to edit in the chapter, we have been allowed to read, but I couldn’t get myself to cut or edit anything in it so, without further ado – I give you: Chapter XXIII
This excerpt is © 2018 by Donald P. Jacobson. Any reproduction without the expressed written consent of the creator of this work is expressly prohibited. Published in the United States of America.
This excerpt introduces the reader to Miss Laura Jenkinson, the spinster sister-in-law of Mrs Jenkinson of Rosings Park. She has been tasked by young Mr Hunters of Wilson and Hunters, the Bennet family’s London solicitors, to retrieve Mrs Lydia Wickham from Newcastle on Tyne.
Oakham House, London, January 2, 1812
Lydia Wickham allowed her natural exuberance to overtake her as she raced off, leaving her companion behind on the stairway leading up to the second floor of the modest red brick townhouse. She burst through the doorway to her chamber and threw herself onto the plush feather bed, a burble of excited laughter escaping her lips. In utter glee, she made an “angel” on the cloud-like satin coverlet, kicking her legs apart to swiftly bring them back together again to click the heels of her street shoes together.
Shopping did that to her—especially when she had nobody to control her purse strings. Gloves and bonnets, stockings and small clothes, day dresses and evening gowns—lace and ribbons bedecking them all—were among the greatest enjoyments she could imagine. Never in all of my life have I been fortunate enough to be set free…to bring my custom and taste to the modistes and milliners of London with carte blanche. And their faces when this stranger started ordering goods like Georgiana Darcy!
She kicked her heels on the bed and literally wriggled, feeling every square inch of her youthful body tingle with excitement and—yes—pleasure.
There in the doorway stood Miss Jenkinson, Lydia’s companion: a lady just turned spinster, dark-haired, and of medium build.
Laura Jenkinson, to be fair, was older only in comparison to Mrs Wickham. The sister of a deceased clergyman, Miss J (as she preferred to be styled) had been forced to earn her way—much like her late brother’s wife—when the grippe took off her two nieces and much older brother. Unlike his widow, who was employed as a young lady’s companion down in Kent, she had been saddened but not scarred by the horrible events now three years behind her. Her natural spirit had not been crushed to the point of utter compliance in all matters of her life. Her other “deficiencies” bore more powerfully upon her current situation.
Although still in her mid-twenties, she was now “on the shelf.” The term “poor as church mice” definitely applied to her family. Her Papa’s parish had been short on glebe and tithe, barely providing enough of a living for them. The question of any dowry to be settled upon her was laughable. Even before her brother’s decease, she had considered trying her fortunes in America. Then came the grim weeks in January 1809. Her brother’s patron allowed the two bereaved ladies to continue to live on his estate in a tenant’s cottage until a late spring fever carried him away.
His protection did not extend past the grave. The Jenkinson ladies resolved to abandon their sinecure when the estate’s new master, a son rarely seen on the land in recent years, roughly abused Laura when he came upon her walking just days after she had shifted from deep mourning into her now customary grey. There was no loss of virtue, but the sense of security with which she had lived her entire life fled like clouds before a North Sea gale roaring in over the Northumbrian cliffs!
Thus began her pilgrimage that lasted some months until she had entered the service of the Hunters’ family, caring for Mrs Frederick Hunters as she declined in the months before her death.
Now she was on—how did young Mr Hunters put it? Ah, yes, she was on retainer, paid a monthly stipend, to serve the needs of the firm and family. And, so she did, from her base here in Oakham House, a property held in blind trust and managed by Wilson and Hunters. When not on firm business, Miss J was under strict instructions to “live the life of a lady of a particular age with some, but not bountiful, means.” The red brick townhouse, appointed with imported woodwork, was pleasant, but not ostentatious, and comfortable, without speaking of any resources that would attract a fortune hunter.
Looking now at the young “lady” bouncing on the bedstead, all Miss Jenkinson could do was shake her head. Of all the little “projects” that had been laid before her, Lydia Wickham posed the most unique set of challenges.
Here was a girl, one who should still have been in the schoolroom, now married for over a third of a year. She seemed to be without any social restrictions, always ready for enjoyment, always searching for the next bit of excitement. She surely would have profited from another twelve-month in the schoolroom.
The schoolroom—that was Miss Jenkinson’s other “deficiency.” She was a bit of a bluestocking…actually a lot of a bluestocking…enough to deter most men.
Ahhh, the schoolroom, mused Miss J, God help me, but I loved it so. Papa and Charles, of course, had their bookroom and their Oxford friends, but I had my sanctuary filled with books and maps where Miss Wallace showed me the wonders of the Classics—Homer and all of the Greeks, of course—but then the geniuses of Roman times! How the Latin rolled in my mouth! Greek was so elemental, almost primitive at times. But, Latin? Oh, what elegance to repeat the speeches of Cicero—ones that moved the Plains of Jupiter when the citizens gathered to elect their leaders! Or old Seneca when he contemplated morality and mortality!
Her lot was keeping Lydia Wickham in check until Mr Hunters could more fully explain the purpose behind bringing a soldier’s wife completely across the country—nearly 300 miles—all the way from Newcastle on Tyne. But, reining in the child’s inner hedonist—yes, Lydia Wickham was nothing if not about self-pleasure—was proving to be quite a task indeed. Laura had followed her instructions to the letter. She had been tasked to escort the girl on shopping excursions in Town, quiet now as those who could escape to their estates for the holidays were long-gone from their normal haunts. Others, the highest reaches of the ton who usually preferred to stay closer to Kensington and Carlton, had, perforce, travelled to Northamptonshire at the behest of the Marquess of Salisbury for the Cecil Twelfth Night Ball.
The reduction in customers, albeit traditional, had, none-the-less, left those toiling in the London fashion world somewhat—Miss J smiled as she punned—at loose ends. Lydia Wickham swept in like a late-season storm rolling up the Thames Estuary. The accounts opened on her behalf by the firm only stipulated that all purchases needed to be delivered to Oakham House no later than the morning of January the Third.
With only emergency purchases to be sent to Burghley House or one of the other Cecil estates housing the Marquess’ guests, there were ample seamstresses and milliners’ apprentices to ply their trade on behalf of Mrs Wickham.
Since their arrival at the front portico of Oakham House six days ago, Lydia often had strained the limits of propriety, tending to exhibit behaviour more often ascribed to members of the climbing class. Her sense of dignity was stunted. She would dash around, not mindlessly but rather with a purpose, modiste showrooms. These temples of fashion, usually only open to the wealthiest members of the First Circle, were now in the reach of the impoverished wife of a minor officer because of the golden web that led from the Wilson and Hunters offices in Lincoln’s Inn.
Yet, she did not show any awareness that she acted contrary to society’s expectations of ‘proper behaviour.’ Lydia Wickham was demanding, to be sure, but only in that, she was almost monomaniacal in expressing her desires. She placed every sense and sentiment that passed through her mind in front of the entire world. She held nothing back.
Nor was she a calculating and malicious shrew. Miss J had seen those, tall, thin, beturbaned women who dressed in garish colours, looking down what they assumed to be fashionably long noses at the world about them. They would profess astonishment at those who did not act in accordance with their copybook expectations of social norms—all the better to elevate themselves in a world determined to isolate and exclude interlopers.
Lydia Wickham wanted nothing more than to enjoy herself and to be surrounded by those who acted as she did. Still a child in so many ways, she had not been shaped by Town behaviour. Instead, when she had only been young Lydia Bennet, she frolicked through the fields of her life in bucolic Hertfordshire. And, while it may have shocked many of her oft-dowdy sorority, Miss J found much to admire in the gusto with which Mrs Wickham embraced her life.
The older lady did worry that the girl, some ten years younger than she, could not well endure disappointment, though, embracing as she clearly did only half of Marcus Aurelias’ vaunted Roman Stoicism—that pleasure and pain are equal parts of life and needed to be endured in similar measure. Well-meaning or even indolent adults had shielded Lydia from nearly every instructive blow.
Yet, the time for philosophizing would be later. Miss J needed to take Mrs Wickham in hand immediately: gently if possible, brusquely if not.
She firmly repeated herself, “ Mrs Wickham! Enough of this hoydenish behaviour! If you wish to be taken seriously by society, if you wish to reflect credit upon your family, you must learn to regulate yourself.”
Lydia sat up and draped her legs over the edge of the bed, swinging her feet to and fro, showing a considerable amount of ankle with each perambulation. A pout pushed her lower lip out as thunderclouds collected above, darkening her remarkable emerald green eyes. Laura slowly moved across the room. She settled on the edge of the bed, turning herself ever so slightly to be able to address the youngster on the same level.
She tried a little sugar to cajole Lydia, “I do understand how exciting working one’s way through the shops can be. I remember the times my Papa would bring us to Town when he waited upon his bishop. I would save up my allowance for an entire quarter just to be able to bring back a bonnet direct from a London milliner, all the better to show my more rusticated friends in the North just how cosmopolitan I, a clergyman’s daughter, could be.”
Lydia bit hard upon the bait dangling before her, “Oh, imagine Maria Lucas’ reaction when I show her my Town clothes! She can put on such airs, you know, just because her father went and got himself knighted.”
Miss J continued, hoping to encourage a bit more charitable reaction upon her charge’s part, “While I am certain Miss Lucas will wish she had the good fortune to have come to the attention of a benefactor as you did, she sounds as though she would wish you joy rather than be jealous. Or, am I mistaken about her?”
While Lydia was one of the most self-centred persons outside of the Prince Regent’s hangers-on, she also had her own code of honour, well-formed and distinct. Once you had been judged her friend, Lydia would defend you from all comers, both familial and foreign!
And Maria Lucas was one whom, she was certain, would return to her former closeness once the unusual nature of Lydia’s marriage to her dear Wickham had dimmed somewhat. Maria was never going to threaten Mrs Wollstonecraft’s bent for scholarship. However, she was a dear creature whose innate sweetness was always a source of comfort to Meryton’s young ladies tossed as they were upon the waves of youthful love and loss.
Lydia recalled the time when Mary had snapped a particularly nasty unkindness at Maria just as the girl was going on about some bit of gossip—or what passed for such given her age and the news’ source—during a morning call at Lucas Lodge. Where moments before had sat her playmate, posing as a grown-up lady preening in front of her own Mama and Lydia’s, was instantly a whirlwind of ribbons and muslin dashing from the room.[i] Lydia had then spent over an hour trying to comfort the distraught girl, long enough to have earned an invitation to luncheon from a grateful Lady Lucas.
However, Lydia did not forget the slight given by her elder sister. A few days after the event, Mary’s window-pane spectacles began mysteriously vanishing—first from the pianoforte—for Mary removed them to read music—and then, later, from the sideboard in the dining room—for Papa had briefly banned their wearing while at the table—and finally from Mary’s monk-like bedchamber. The first two times, the glasses had been located quickly…once laced through the chains holding the weights in the great case clock that dominated the parlour…and later hanging by a piece of yarn above the pigsty. However, the last time her sister’s affectation went wandering, lest Mary somehow mistake the message, they were found propped on the nose of the bust of Julius Caesar that Papa had insisted upon installing in the corner of the west-facing sitting room: the lenses smeared with Cook’s famous strawberry preserves!
Mrs Wickham rearranged her face and sat back before saying in a solemn tone, “Miss J, you do have the right of it. Maria would never begrudge me my happiness. She would ask me if she could borrow one of my gowns if we were off to an Assembly. Then we would join my dear sister Kitty and dance until the musicians packed away their tools.
“There are times I regret leaving that life, you know. I would not trade my dear Wickham for anything, but I miss not having to worry about money. That is why I could not contain myself just now. I do apologize.”
Laura smiled at the contrition that showed yet another facet of the complicated soul that was Lydia Wickham.
She stood and smoothed imaginary wrinkles out of her gown with elegant brushes of her long-fingered hands. Then she began to move from the room, turning to look over her shoulder at the childlike matron, saying, “Perhaps we might gather in the breakfast room for a casual luncheon in, oh, perhaps thirty minutes. That will allow us both some time to freshen ourselves.
“We have one more appointment this afternoon, one for which we cannot be late. You are to meet the person who has taken you into her interest.”
[i] Please see The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey. Ch. XII.
HI, Guys, I know you are likely thinking, How long is this blog entry!? Well, I am nearly done, you just have to scroll down to the GIVEAWAY! Yeah, you read that right, an INTERNATIONAL giveaway, there’s a chance to win a copy of this book! So please bear with me for a few minutes more, thank you.
Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series—The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series. Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”
Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a speciality in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.
He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound. Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).
He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty-pound cat, Bear.
And FINALLY, the GIVEAWAY!! I wish everyone good luck in the draw! Click on the link please – and good luck!
Terms and Conditions:
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they, (which will be verified). If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.
A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook or Paperback of The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.
Buy Links: Paperback & Kindle
Hi Guys, that’s it for this time, but on a side note; Do return in early March, to read about “My Scotland Adventure”! See you!